By Brandon Moseley
The Alabama special session tasked primarily with redistricting could be finished as early as Wednesday after committees in both Houses of the Alabama legislature passed redistricting plans.
McClendon told 1819 News, "We could have redistricting wrapped up on Wednesday.”
This is the first time since the 1960 Census that Alabama has not been required to have its redistricting plan approved by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. That burden was lifted by the landmark Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision that struck down the preclearance section of the Voting Rights Act.
The U.S. Constitution requires that a new Census be held every 10 years. Decennial reapportionment and redistricting of congressional, state legislature, and state board of education districts are then done based on that most recent census, in this case 2020.
In Alabama, the state legislature is tasked with preparing the redistricting plans. Those plans are initially prepared by the Legislative Committee on Reapportionment – chaired by State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile).
On Tuesday, the House State Government committee approved both redistricting plans for the Alabama State Senate and the eight-member State Board of Education. Both Senate Bills 1 and 2 were sponsored by McClendon. Pringle, chairman of the House State Government Committee, is expected to carry them onto the House floor on Wednesday.
At the same time, the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, chaired by State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), voted to give a favorable report to House Bills 1 and 2. HB 1 is the redistricting plan for Alabama’s seven Congressional districts and HB 2 is the redistricting plan for the Alabama House of Representatives. Both of those bills were sponsored by Pringle and McClendon, and McClendon is expected to carry them onto the Senate floor on Wednesday.
McClendon chaired the Legislative Committee on Reapportionment 10 years ago, although then he was a member of the House. Former Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) was the other chairman back then. This will be only the third time in Alabama history that a Republican controlled legislature has been tasked with redistricting and reapportionment in Alabama following the Census. The third time this happened, besides this time and 10 years ago, followed the 1870 Census.
The Alabama Black Legislative Caucus sued the state in federal court over the last redistricting plan, claiming those plans violated the Voting Rights Act by packing Blacks into minority-majority districts to minimize their electoral influence. That lawsuit, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulted in a partial redistricting of the state legislature in 2017. Litigation is expected over one or more of the current redistricting plans.
The special session was called by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) to address redistricting and a supplemental appropriation of American Rescue Act funds. That bill, SB 3, is sponsored by Albritton. The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee gave SB 3 a favorable report on Tuesday and it is on Wednesday’s calendar for the House.Wednesday will be day four of the second special session.